Editorial: Languages are the right choice

April 16, 2016

In an effort to pare down the common curriculum, Loyola will be removing the modern foreign language requirement from all of its DPCLs. Next year’s freshmen class will be the first to not be required to graduate having studied a foreign language.

The change is happening, and those who think that learning a foreign language is a necessary part of say, for example, educating the whole person will have to accept it. Accepting that the policy is changing, however, does not mean that the value of learning a language that’s not your own is any less important.

Even if students aren’t being forced to take a foreign language course, they still definitely should.

Assume for a second that the typical Loyola student will need to have a basic grasp of a foreign language just one time in their life. What is a better time to learn than now?

Loyola will still be offering some language courses. If your goal is to actually learn another language, taking one of those courses could be your best bet.

Courses are designed to keep you accountable. If you sign up for a class and your GPA matters to you, doing well in the class is a must. You’ll have someone who knows the language well on call and other students to study with when you need to.

It’s completely realistic that you might take the course with a sub-par professor and even more sub-par students. Still, compare the risk of that with the risk of failing at learning alone and without any guidance years into your adult life where you have more responsibilities and less spare time. The odds are just better in Bobet.

Maybe you don’t think that there will be a time where you really need to know how to speak another language. Considering that the United States is on track for the Hispanic population — of which many of them speak Spanish — to make up one-third of the nation in the coming decades, you’re probably going to be wrong. Still, there are other good reasons why you should learn how to speak something that isn’t your native language anyway.

Learning another language will help you with your job. How many times have you filled out an application for an internship or a job and it asked if you spoke a second language? Probably every time. It appears often because there’s a demand for people who know other languages. Doctors, lawyers, social workers, journalists and people in countless other careers work with a diverse group of people who might need to communicate in a language that isn’t English.

Being able to connect with other people who speak a different language than you makes you more interesting and a better leader. The more you’re able to relate to other people, the more you’ll learn about other people’s experiences and the more you’ll be able to overcome challenges that you might not have been able to face otherwise.

If you learn another language — just the very basics of it, even — you’ll have access to so much more of the world. You’ll be able to get more out of traveling, going to the museum, watching movies and just conversing. It’s a big world, and it’s worth learning more about.

Maybe you don’t disagree with any of this, but you just want to take more interesting courses or ones that are more relevant to your major. That’s definitely better than thinking it doesn’t matter to learn another language.

Still, sometimes there aren’t any really compelling classes available to you because of a lack of availability, a scheduling conflict or any other number of very realistic reasons. In that case, the reasons not to register for a course where you’ll pick up a new language are few and far
between.

Not only will you be opening yourself up to new people and a bigger world, but maybe your class could convince your professor to let you bring food to class which lines up with the language you’re studying. If the alternative is for them to lose their jobs because no one wants to take their classes, I’m sure Spanish professors wouldn’t mind a fiesta as a consolation prize.

While upcoming students won’t have to learn a new language in their time at Loyola, it’s something we should always encourage people to do.

The editorial represents the majority opinions of The Maroon’s editorial board and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Loyola University. 

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